Five Brownsboro students, four of whom are current football players, are facing possible felony grand jury indictments for burglary. The accusations stem from a break in at Brownsboro High School last month. According to a Brownsboro police report, the students went to the school to play basketball. When they couldn't find a basketball, they climbed through the ceiling into the equipment room to get one. According to the report, the students allegedly took Under Armor pull over under shirts, camp T-shirts, track jackets, athletic shorts, a sweatshirt, a laundry belt, a basketball and a blue canvass travel bag, totaling $350. All the items were eventually recovered.
"I don't know what the kids intentions were," said Brownsboro police chief Ron Shields. "I don't think they went up to the school to commit a burglary. I think they were just some young men that when they was in there it seemed like a good idea, that turned out not to be a good idea. I don't think that any of these kids are vicious. I don't think they had any criminal intent. But unfortunately, they committed a crime."
Shields said the students were not arrested. Instead, the case will be sent to the Henderson County Grand Jury to decide if they should be charged with burglary of a building, which is a state jail felony, carrying possible jail time of 180 days to two years, and/or up to a $10,000 fine. The Grand Jury could also decide to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor, or drop the charges altogether.
Brownsboro high school principal Doug Williams said the school will not base their decision entirely on what the grand jury decides.
"They are athletes here at Brownsboro high school, but first and foremost they are students," Williams said. "There has been a precedent set. We had a similar incident a couple of years ago. If it is a misdemeanor, then it will be our discretion as to how we handle it, and then probably precedent will kick in."
That previous incident did not involve athletes, but those students received 30 days at the alternative school. If the felony charge stands, they will automatically go to alternative school, for up to an entire year.
"You've got to teach kids Algebra. You've got to teach kids English, all of that, but the most important thing is, you've got to teach kids how to be functioning adults," Williams said. "If you want to get a job and keep a job, then you get there on time, you work hard while you're there. You've got to teach them, that if there are actions that are counter to what society would consider to be acceptable, there are going to be consequences. And that's what we're talking about here. We're not talking about what's going to be good for Brownsboro high school, or what's going to be good for our perception. We're talking about what's going to be good for the kids in the long run. They did make a mistake, whether it was a breakdown in judgement, or poor decision making, whatever. Those things happen. The thing that we don't want to see happen is we don't want to see kids that will shut down. We want them to pay the punishment for what they've done, come back to Brownsboro high school, and become productive citizens, productive students again, and I think they will."
The grand jury next meets again in August, although the Henderson County District Attorney's office said the case wasn't yet scheduled to be heard in August. That could change, though.
Regardless of what the charges will end up being, the football players will most likely miss a good chunk of the football season, if they return to the team at all. Head football coach John Settle said he was disappointed in the actions of the players, but said it's premature to talk about their athletic future.
"They have more important things to deal with right now," Settle said. "If they are charged with a felony, then athletics are not even an option."
Settle plans to wait to see what the legal punishment will be, then what the school's punishment will be. Athletic punishment would be added on top of that.
While the athlete's names are not being released, Settle said two of them are veteran players. Their absence will definitely affect the team. The Bears are hoping to build on last season's 8-3 record.
Settle said he hopes a decision can be made quickly, although the Henderson County District Attorney's office said the case isn't on the grand jury's August schedule yet.